“What am I here to do in the world?”

Notes from a meeting of Fr. Julián Carrón and Francesco Barberis with GS students preparing for graduation. Milan, February 12, 2020.

Francesco Barberis. Good evening, everyone: students in their last two years of high school together with their teachers, gathered here in Milan and connected by video to over 80 cities in Italy, Switzerland, Portugal and the Czech Republic. We are here because your life as students is calling you: this transition time, so dramatic and exciting, highlights those questions that are fundamental, fundamental for everyone, but especially poignant at your age: “What am I here to do in the world?” “What makes life worth living?” How can I make the right choice for my future?” and “Would it be so bad to make the wrong choice?” We want to pose all these questions, and others that come up, to Fr. Julián Carrón, who is a father to us. In the end, we do not just want answers; we want to make sure we do not forget the origin of these questions. We are looking, therefore, for much more than answers; we are looking for someone who can embrace these questions, someone who makes them his own, a father who is willing to walk with each of us, to take the necessary steps with all of us to discover the answers to our questions. Because of this, we are so grateful to have Julián here, so that we can share a bit of our journey with him [...]

I have a question about graduation and the time we have left until then. I need to see that the fact I have to stay home to study is not something less than the kind of life I would like. I want to see that I am not missing out on something. For example, I had to give up going to charitable work one Saturday because I had to study for an oral exam. The feeling I had was really that I was missing out on something. I do not want it to be that way. As we get closer and closer to graduation, and as there is, therefore, more and more to study, I really need to see in my experience that staying home to study is not missing out, that it is not a loss. How can I? Can it really be that way? Right now, it seems like being stuck inside at home when it is a beautiful day outside.

Julián Carrón. May I ask you a question? Have you ever had a concrete, specific experience in which you did not feel like you were missing out on anything? You say, “If I have to stay home to study, I cannot go to charitable work.” When you choose something, you always leave out something else; no one has the power to be everywhere at all times. So, this is a serious problem, because today you think that way about studying, but tomorrow it will be something else. Facing this question of how to live one detail in life without losing track of everything else, is crucial for our lives, not just to pass final exams. As we have always said, to respond, we have to start with experience. Have you ever had an experience in which, living through a particular event, you had the clear impression that everything was present and that you were not missing out on anything? [...]

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